Gunner Kiel

FCS-to-Ducks transfer one of 30 QBs on Unitas Award watch list

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Even as one high-profile FCS transfer has yet to be officially added to his new Power Five program’s roster, he’s still highly thought of by at least one major award.

Tuesday, the fine folks at the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award released its preseason watch list, with the annual award given to the best college senior or fourth-year junior quarterback recognizing 30 players who meet the qualifications.  And, again, those qualifications are that they are, one, a quarterback and, two, are a college senior or fourth-year junior.

Included in that group of 30 is Vernon Adams, one of the most decorated players in the Football Championship Series who announced in February of this year that he would be transferring from Eastern Washington to Oregon for his final season of collegiate eligibility.  In early July it was reported that Adams had been admitted to UO and ruled eligible to enroll in classes at the university.  However, Adams will likely miss at least the first three days of the Ducks’ summer camp that begins Aug. 10 as he cleans up one final class that will allow him formal admission and his inclusion on his new squad’s roster.

There’s also one current FCS quarterback in the group: North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.

In addition to Adams and Wentz, 2014 Unitas finalists Cody Kessler of USC and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State are included in the initial watch list.   Last year’s winner was the man Adams will attempt to replace, Marcus Mariota.

Below is the complete list of preseason Unitas Award watch listers.  And, again, those eligible are college senior or fourth-year junior quarterbacks.

Vernon Adams, Oregon
Brandon Allen, Arkansas
Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Mike Bercovici, Arizona State
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Blake Frohnapfel, UMass
Everett Golson, Florida State
Taysom Hill, BYU
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Driphus Jackson, Rice
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Chuckie Keeton, Utah State
Cody Kessler, USC
Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
Fredi Knighten, Arkansas State
Joe Licata, Buffalo
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Maty Mauk, Missouri
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Zach Terrell, Western Michigan
Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
Chad Voytik, Pittsburgh
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah

Five Buckeyes among 50 named to Walter Camp Player of the Year watch list

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Award watch list season is drawing to a close, but not before the Walter Camp Foundation released its list of 50 players worthy of consideration for its player of the year honors.

TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin was a second-team Walter Camp All-American last season, and he is among the popular candidates for the Walter Camp Award this season. Other previous Walter Camp All-Americans joining Boykin on this watch list are Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright III and Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins. Of course, there is a handful of players from Ohio State, as has been the case on multiple watch lists thus far. Ohio State quarterbacks Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones each made the watch list. So did running back Ezekiel Elliott and defensive end Joey Bosa.

The list of candidates will be trimmed down to 10 semi-finalists in mid-November and the award will be presented on December 10 at the annual college football awards show. Last year’s winner was Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. A quarterback has won the award all but five times since 2000. USC has been the home to a nation-leading six Walter camp Award winners, including running backs Reggie Bush, Marcus Allen and O.J. Simpson (twice). USC quarterback Cody Kessler and linebacker Su’a Cravens each appears on this year’s watch list.

2015 Walter Camp Award Watch List

S Dante Barrett, Kansas State
QB J.T. Barrett, Ohio State
RB Devontae Booker, Utah
DE Joey Bosa, Ohio State
QB Trevone Boykin, TCU
DE Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State
DB Jeremy Cash, Duke
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia
RB James Conner, Pittsburgh
QB Connor Cook, Michigan State
LB Su’a Cravens, USC
QB Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky
DB/KR DeVon Edwards, Duke
RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
RB Kenneth Farrow, Houston
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
RB Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
RB Royce Freeman, Oregon
DB Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech
WR Will Fuller, Notre Dame
QB Jared Goff, California
QB Everett Golson, Florida State
QB Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
LB Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama
WR Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
QB Taysom Hill, BYU
QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford
RB/LB Myles Jack, UCLA
RB Devon Johnson, Marshall
QB Cardale Jones, Ohio State
QB Cody Kessler, USC
QB Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati
QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis
LB Blake Martinez, Stanford
RB Elijah McGuire, Louisiana
QB Braxton Miller, Ohio State
DE Shaun Oakman, Baylor
RB Samaje Perine, Oklahoma
RB Paul Perkins, UCLA
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
QB Keenan Reynolds, Navy
QB Anu Solomon, Arizona
QB Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech
DB Darian Thompson, Boise State
WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson
WR Duke Williams, Auburn
LB Scooby Wright III, Arizona
QB Malik Zaire, Notre Dame

A mere two dozen QBs placed on O’Brien watch list

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“You call that a watch list?  The Lombardi Award scoffs in your general direction.” — the Lombardi Award, speaking in the third person.

Be that as it may, the Davey O’Brien Award released the shortest preseason watch list of the year thus far, with a mere 24 quarterbacks posted to the initial grouping.  Interestingly, and unlike the Maxwell Award, there’s only one Ohio State quarterback on this list — Cardale Jones.  Neither Braxton Miller nor J.T. Barrett were included, although the O’Brien explained that Jones “[f]inished last year as Ohio State’s starting quarterback” and OSU “has not yet named a starter for the 2015 season.”

Those who actually are on the list includes 2014 finalists Trevone Boykin of TCU and Dak Prescott of Mississippi State, who finished behind winner Marcus Mariota in the voting last year. Additionally, 2014 semifinalist Connor Cook of Michigan State is on the initial watch list this year.

The O’Brien also notes that there are nine players appearing on the watch list for the second straight year: Cook and Prescott, along with Jared Goff (California), Christian Hackenberg (Penn State), Taysom Hill (BYU), Kevin Hogan (Stanford), Chuckie Keeton (Utah State), Cody Kessler (USC) and Keenan Reynolds (Navy).

All 10 FBS conferences placed at least one player on the watch list, with the ACC and Pac-12 leading the way with four each. The AAC, Big Ten and SEC had three apiece, while the MAC, with two, was the only other conference with more than one.

By class, there are 11 seniors, eight juniors and five sophomores.

Trevone Boykin (TCU, Senior)
Connor Cook (Michigan State, Senior)
Joshua Dobbs (Tennessee, Junior)
Brandon Doughty (Western Kentucky, Senior)
Blake Frohnapfel (UMass, Senior)
Jared Goff (California, Junior)
Christian Hackenberg (Penn State, Junior)
Taysom Hill (BYU, Senior)
Kevin Hogan (Stanford, Senior)
Jeremy Johnson (Auburn, Sophomore)
Cardale Jones (Ohio State, Junior)
Brad Kaaya (Miami, Sophomore)
Chuckie Keeton (Utah State, Senior)
Cody Kessler (USC, Senior)
Gunner Kiel (Cincinnati, Junior)
Fredi Knighten (Arkansas State, Junior)
Paxton Lynch (Memphis, Sophomore)
Dak Prescott (Mississippi State, Senior)
Keenan Reynolds (Navy, Senior)
Anu Solomon (Arizona, Sophomore)
Zach Terrell (Western Michigan, Junior)
Justin Thomas (Georgia Tech, Junior)
Deshaun Watson (Clemson, Sophomore)
Marquise Williams (North Carolina, Senior)

Cincinnati QB Hayden Moore makes strong case for backup spot behind Kiel in spring game

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Before Michigan got started with its spring game today in Ann Arbor, Cincinnati was already getting to work Saturday morning. The Bearcats were not on TV, so the offensive fireworks that were lacking in Michigan Stadium were not on display down south in Ohio. That is a shame, because Cincinnati’s spring game was all about the offense.

Gunner Kiel completed 18 of his 26 pass attempts for 221 yards and a touchdown. His backup, Hayden Moore seemed to grab a firm hold of the backup job after a nice showing in the spring game. Moore completed 22 of his 29 pass attempts for 391 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the better day in the box score, do not anticipate Kiel’s starting job to be in jeopardy after Moore’s impressive spring game.

Other offensive highlights included Chris Moore leading all players with 133 receiving yards on seven catches and Nate Cole making a push with 105 yards on nine receptions. Last season’s leading rusher, Mike Boone, led the ground game with 152 yards on 13 rushing attempts. Tion Green had a pair of touchdown runs and 96 rushing yards as well. It was a good day for the offenses, and not quite so much for the defenses. First team offense went against first team defense and second team units faced each other as well.

Cincinnati is still going through a renovation to Nippert Stadium, so the team moved the spring action over to Sheakley Athletics Center, where fans seemed to pack the limited seats pretty well. Nippert Stadium will be ready for the first game of the season when Cincinnati opens the schedule at home against Alabama A&M on September 5.

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Hokies pull away for Military Bowl victory and Beamer’s 10th bowl win

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Virginia Tech may have given up more offensive yards, but a familiar formula built on the strength of big defensive plays helped the Hokies pull away from Cincinnati for a 33-17 victory in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday afternoon. The victory marked the 10th postseason bowl victory for Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who coached the game from the coaches box.

Beamer is the 10th coach in college football history to win 10 bowl games. The only other active coach with 10+ bowl wins is Steve Spurrier of South Carolina. Beamer is now two wins out of fifth place for most all-time bowl victories, an honor shared by Lou Holtz and Tom Osborne (12 wins each).

Virginia Tech forced three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions and one fumble that was returned for a pivotal touchdown. The defense was chewed up at times, but the Hokies buckled down when needed with big plays to keep control of the game. On offense, J.C. Coleman carried the bulk of the offense with 157 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Cincinnati may have lost a chance to win against Virginia Tech when quarterback Gunner Kiel was knocked out of the game. As Kiel was taken down by Virginia Tech’s Deon Clarke. Kiel hit his head on the play, which left him on the sideline for the remainder of the game. Without Munchie Legaux in uniform, Cincinnati turned to Michael Colosimo, who took a little time to settle in as the quarterback. Cincinnati scored just one touchdown since Colosimo’s entrance to the game in the third quarter. With Virginia Tech continuing to add points, that ruled out much shot of a comeback for a bowl victory.

The 2014 season was not a terrific one for the Hokies. Virginia Tech was a .500 team with a number of offensive issues from start to finish, although the Hokies scored a huge win on the road against Ohio State early in the year. The season looked promising after that win in Columbus, but things turned south quickly with a home loss to East Carolina and an up-and-down run through ACC play. The future of Virginia Tech should be interesting, with Beamer coming off throat surgery and Bud Foster locked into a coaching extension. The Hokies are still in need of offense in 2015, because the defense will continue to be as reliable as any.

For Cincinnati, the Bearcats are still likely to be in a favorable position to remain among the top programs in the Group of Five conversation. Co-champions of the American Athletic Conference this season, Tommy Tuberville has some good things happening with the program. This is certainly not the way Tuberville wanted this season to end, but it helps to demonstrate just how far the program has to go. Cincinnati lost three straight games to Ohio State, Memphis and the Miami Hurricanes early in the season, but went on to win seven straight games heading into the Military Bowl match-up with Virginia Tech. Cincinnati did some good things against Virginia Tech but was unable to finish the job too often with empty possessions.